Dyson had been tasked with finding this girl and it was taking him too long. Katherine McArthur had been missing for ten years and with the Light in turmoil, her brother Alfred had come to see him for help. She had disappeared without a trace and the Ash hadn’t contributed a lot of resources, assuming the young shifter had merely run away from home. Alfred and Katherine, called Katie, had had their parents die a year after Katie went missing and Alfred himself was now on his death bed. That was why he had hired Dyson.
Bo was busy with Dagny and Mark was tied up with Vex so Dyson was on his own. To say it was a cold case would be an understatement. His only lead was someone with Dark Fae connections and Dyson wished the whole thing could have been easier. Intel had brought him to this supposedly abandoned warehouse, but there were a lot of cameras for an empty warehouse. He made a lap around the perimeter and saw one guard by the back door. Fae. He was in the right place. Dyson waited and watched for another hour before someone came to relieve the guard. Maybe he should get Bruce. Bruce would definitely help, but the guy wasn’t exactly subtle. Subtlety would probably be a good thing.
He looped the building again and found an open window he made his way towards. Looking through he couldn’t really make anything out but it was big enough he could squeeze in. There was a catwalk conveniently located directly under the window. He dropped down on to it and looked around the building again. Looking to the ground, it seemed to be full of cages. There weren’t as many guards inside as he thought there would be. He counted maybe five, six counting the guy outside. There had to be a dozen cages though. Looking, he found they were all full of women and they were all naked. What was this place?
He overheard a group of them, “The boss says it’s time to kill the shifter bitch, she’s outlived her usefulness. He wants to find someone new to take her place.”
“We just had to replace one of the girls. Does he think this is easy?”
Dyson could tell they were all Fae, the men and the caged women, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint what kind. There were too many smells in this place. His best bet would probably be to find and take Katie with him before calling Fae officials to know what was going on and free the rest of the girls. What he needed was a distraction. Where was Kenzie when he needed her? Dyson creeped his way down to the main floor and began looking into the cages. All the girls seemed to be heavily drugged and didn’t seem to care about his being there. Now that he was closer he was able to tell what each of the girls were. They were all different kinds of Fae. No two were the same. Several of them were pregnant too. What was this?
The last cage he came to had a girl hung by her wrists from the top of it and she was unconscious. He smelled shifter. This had to be Katie. She didn’t look like the last picture they had of her though. She was emaciated, scarred, and obviously broken. The men still seemed preoccupied complaining about their boss and hadn’t noticed his presence. The lock on the door to the cage was a joke which he bypassed with ease. The gate opened with little to no noise and Dyson managed to take the girl down from the chains holding her upright. She didn’t move and seemed to be completely knocked out. She smelled sick. He left her wrists bound so they could wrap around his neck, but wrapped his jacket around her before he slowly made his way back out the way he came in. He wanted to be clear of the building when they discovered she was missing. As soon as he was clear, he made a call and soon he could hear sirens descending on the place and he hoped they made it before the men panicked and killed any of the other women he hadn’t saved.
Dyson hurried over to Lauren’s clinic, “Lauren! I need you,” he called as soon as he was through the door.
“Dyson, what’s going on?”
“This is Katie McArthur. She’s been missing for years. I was hired to find her. She hasn’t woken up since I found her.”
“She’s a shifter, please, help her. I don’t understand. She can’t die.”
“Dyson, I need space, let me work.”
Dyson nodded his head, stepping away to call Alfred McArthur. “Dyson,” he heard the man rasp out on the other end of the line.
“I found her.”
The man released a world weary sigh, “Thank you.”
“She’s very sick, but she is free again.”
Alfred began coughing and couldn’t stop for a few moments, “Thank you, Dyson. I can go to my parents now with no shame.”
Dyson heard the line click and stared at his phone in confusion. Part of him hoped the man would be able to heal once he knew his sister was safe, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
“Dyson?” Lauren called.
He looked up at her, feeling exhausted, “Is she going to be ok?”
“She is very sick. Most concerning, she recently gave birth.”
“Like, within hours. Was there any evidence of there being children there?”
Dyson shook his head, “No, there was just the women and their guards.”
“Wait, multiple women?”
“Yes, authorities should be there soon. I’m gonna guess you’ll get a call in a few moments.”
“How many were there?”
“About a dozen.”
“Why did you just take this one?”
“I was hired to.”
“It is unlike you to leave people behind.”
“I know, but I had to get her out of there. You didn’t see it Lauren.”
“Ok, it’s ok, we’ll get her fixed up. It doesn’t look like she has had solid foods for a while and she is severely undernourished. It’s going to take a while, but it looks like she is going to be ok.”
Dyson let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, “Thank you, Lauren.”
“Bo is on her way to help when the other women are brought in.”
“Can I see her?”
“She isn’t awake yet, but sure. She isn’t in a coma so she could come out of it at any time.”
Dyson returned to the room where Katie had been situated. She was hooked up to a lot of monitors and against the white back drop of the room, she looked much sicker than she had in the warehouse. He took one of her hands in his, her skin felt so thin and her hands were so cold. He had never seen a shifter look so prone. He idly wondered what animal she was.
Dyson didn’t know how long he sat there, but everyone in their makeshift family stopped by to see how he was doing; even Vex. He heard a lot of commotion so he knew the rest of the women were at the clinic and hoped the rest of them would make it. The sun was beginning to creep in to the windows when he saw her eyes open. They were a chocolate brown, but they were empty. There was no recognition or confusion or any sign that she realized her surroundings were different.
“Katie?” Dyson whispered. She turned to him seeming to be surprised at hearing her name. “My name is Dyson, your brother Alfred hired me to find you. You’re safe now.”
She didn’t seem to understand or even hear what he said, at least her expression didn’t change and there didn’t seem to be any kind of comprehension. “I’m not going anywhere,” Dyson said, and she closed her eyes again. He heard her breathing even out in sleep again. He hoped it was restful for her.
A few hours later, Bo joined him, “Hey wolfman.”
“Hey Bo,” he replied, coming out of his reverie. “How are the other women? Did they get them all?”
Bo nodded, “Yeah, thanks to you.”
Dyson shook his head, “Who does that to people, Bo? Especially to Fae?”
“So far, the women are both Light and Dark, Lauren has figured out their species and is doing what she can for them. Most of the girls are pregnant. Katie is the only one who shows evidence of giving birth recently. There’s one girl, a faery who is still in pretty good shape. We think she wasn’t there long.”
“I heard the guys saying there was a new one, it must be her.”
“Dyson, what is this? What did you stumble on?”
“I don’t know. I was hoping Katie could tell us, but if she has been gone for this long, there’s no telling what all they did to her.”
“Are you going to stay with her?” Dyson nodded, “You ok Dyson? Where’s your head at?”
“I don’t know, Bo. There’s something about her. I can’t put my finger on it.”
“Just be careful. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
Bo patted him on the shoulder and then left to find Lauren, he presumed. He fell asleep until was startled awake when he heard movement in the room. Katie was awake again and looking at him. “Hey,” he said leaning forward. “How are you feeling?”
She didn’t respond, but there seemed to be more life in her eyes. “Can you talk?” he asked, wishing he could open her mind. She again didn’t say anything which made his mind go to what kind of hell she had been living the last few years of her life. Dyson’s phone rang, looking at the caller ID he said, “I’ll be right outside the door.”
“Alfred McArthur has passed away. He has left everything to his sister. Whatever resources you need for her recovery are at your disposal.”
“Who is this?”
“I’m the family lawyer. I am already transferring money into her account at the clinic for her care. Dr. Lewis will be informed to use whatever means necessary for her care.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Sources told me you were still with her, I figured you would want to know.”
“Spencer. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help.”
Dyson hung up the call, staring at his phone for a while before letting himself feel the weight of this woman’s situation. She was alone in the world and he didn’t like that. He went back into the room and saw Katie staring at the window on one wall of the room. He didn’t think there was anything outside the window for her to see, but he assumed it had been a while since she had seen the sky. “Hi Katie,” he said when she looked at him again.
Anything else Dyson could have said was interrupted by Lauren who appeared to check the girls vitals. “Hi Ms. McArthur, I’m Dr. Lauren Lewis. I’m a friend of Dyson’s and I’m here to see how you’re doing. Can you tell me how you’re feeling? Are you in any pain? Are you hungry?”
Katie gave Lauren the same blank stare. “Everything is looking good so far,”
Lauren said as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. “You’re numbers are up and you’re already healing from giving birth. Do you know what happened to your baby?”
Katie went back to looking at the window and Dyson figured that was as good as a no. He and Lauren shared a look and Lauren gave him a sad smile before she left the room again, “Let me know if you need anything.”
Dyson nodded and settled in again. He didn’t have a plan, and he knew he needed one, but he didn’t think he could abandon this woman. He dozed off again, waking to a hand on his shoulder. It was Kenzie and Dyson felt some type of relief. “Hey Kenzie.”
“Hey D-man. I heard you got yourself into a bit of a scuffle.”
“Sorta. What are you doing here?”
“Bo called, thought I could help. Who’s this?”
“Kenzie, this is Katie McArthur,” Katie’s eyes were on them and looked hesitant.
“Katie, this is my good friend Kenzie. She’s crazy, but the best there is.”
“Hi Katie,” Kenzie said with a wave and a smile. “Dyson, when was the last time you slept?”
“I was asleep when you woke me up.”
“I meant real sleep.”
Dyson gave a rueful smile, “What day is it?”
Kenzie shook her head good-naturedly, “Go home Dyson, I’ll watch over Katie while you get some rest.”
“No buts. Now, go on. Get out of here.”
Dyson looked to Katie, to see if she had any kind of input. She didn’t seem to mind one way or the other. “I’ll be back in a couple hours.”
When Dyson got home, he made it as far as his couch before passing out. He didn’t know how much time had passed when he heard his phone ringing. He grabbed it before he was all the way awake, “Dyson,” he mumbled into the speaker.
“Dyson, it’s the Ash. We need to speak.”
Dyson looked at the time, seeing he had been asleep longer than he had intended, “Can it wait ‘til I eat something?”
“Dyson, you uncovered a Fae trafficking ring. You should be in the thick of things but instead you holing up at a hospital?”
“I just have different priorities right now.”
“I want to see you as soon as possible.”
“Dyson,” the Ash said with a warning in his voice.
“See you later.” Dyson, ended the call and stared at his phone a minute before he ran his hands over his face. He took a quick shower and changed into clean clothes and returned to the hospital. Before entering, he heard Kenzie regaling Katie with stories of some of the gang’s escapades. Turning the corner, he saw Katie was engaged in the story, but still didn’t seem to be contributing at all. Her eyes were animated again, but her facial expression had the same indifference he had seen since he had met her. He also noticed she was in a baggy t-shirt rather than a hospital gown and mentally thanked whoever had thought about it.
“Hey D-man, you’re looking loads better.”
“Thanks, Kenz. How are things here?”
“Good, Lauren says things are looking positive and Katie here was enjoying my stories.”
“You do have good stories. I can stay for a while. I’m sure you want to see Bo and Dagny.”
“Let me know if you need me.”
Kenzie stood and gave him a hug before she left. “Hi Katie. Sorry I was gone for so long, I slept later than I thought I would.”
Dyson saw the first sign of emotion as a little smile moved her lips before her face resumed its normal expression. Her eyes looked like she was almost scared for showing emotion.
“It’s ok, Katie. You don’t have to be scared anymore. I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again.”
Katie’s eyes emptied again. Dyson didn’t know what he had said that would have triggered her back into her own mind. “Hey, hey, Katie, where are you going? Come back to me,” but it was too late, she was gone for now. He would just have to work on making her feel at ease again. She seemed to really like Kenzie, but then most people did. “I’m sorry, Katie. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
Katie’s eyes were focused on the window again but Dyson kept his eyes on her until he saw hers droop in sleep. When her breathing slowed in sleep Dyson stood and moved the blanket so it covered her again. He heard a noise outside the door and looking up and he saw Kenzie peeking in. He turned down the lights in the room and stepped out to talk to the crazy human.
“Dyson, where the heck is your head at?”
“What are you talking about?”
“She’s an unknown, Dyson. You can’t just bring an unknown into our family.”
“Kenzie, where is this all coming from?”
“I thought that Bo was your mate for life or whatever.”
“I’m just helping out a woman who is alone in the world. And she’s my kin.”
“Because she’s a shifter?”
“Yes, because she is a shifter.”
“What do you mean; alone in the world?”
“Her parents died not long after she was taken and I received word earlier today that her brother who hired me passed away this morning.”
“Oh my gosh, that’s so sad!”
“Now will you allow me to be worried about her?”
“Yes, fine. Do you lurve her?” Kenzie asked with a cheeky grin, bumping into him with her shoulder.
“Kenzie, you know my heart belongs to Bo.”
“Yeah, but I think it would be good for you to try and get it back and maybe give it to someone else. Technically you guys didn’t actually ‘mate’ or whatever so it’s not like it really counted.”
Dyson shook his head good naturedly, “I just met the woman.”
“Yeah, but she’s special. I can tell.”
“You always can.”
“Are you gonna stay here all night?”
“Yeah, I think I am.”
“Ok, well then I will be here bright and early in the morning with some coffee.”
“You’re the best.”
Kenzie gave Dyson a quick hug and then went on her way. Dyson turned back to the room behind him and found that in her sleep, Katie had curled into a tight ball, almost like she was protecting her stomach, but then if what Lauren said was true, he guessed she would have slept this way to protect her baby from whatever horrors were inflicted upon her in that place.
Hours passed and Dyson figured he must have dozed because the next thing he knew, he woke to someone entering the room. Before he knew it, he had wolfed out and grabbed the person by the throat. “Dyson!” Lauren croaked out and he immediately released her.
“Lauren, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”
“No, I’m fine. How’s Katie?”
Dyson looked to the girl and saw she had scrambled to make herself as small as possible on one end of the bed, shoving pillows out of her way. “Katie, I’m sorry. Its ok, you’re safe. I’m here, we’re not going to hurt you. Lauren wants to check and make sure how you’re feeling so that she can make you better. I’m going to wait by the door ok?”
Katie made a noise and shook her head vigorously looking at Dyson with panic in her eyes. “Ok, ok, I’m not going to go anywhere.” Dyson moved toward her and put out one of his hands to her. She stared at it like it was a foreign object but eventually she put hers in his. Dyson sat on the very edge of the bed and pulled her so that she could settle against the head of the bed again. Lauren came around the other side of the bed and checked the machines she was connected to. Lauren pulled out a needle, “Now I just want to take your blood again to see if there have been any changes.”
The girl scrambled away from Lauren, which meant Dyson now had a trembling ninety pound shifter in his lap. Dyson had to fight his hackles rising again at sensing a perceived threat even though he knew it was just Lauren. “Ok, no blood,” Lauren said, backing away with her hands up. “From what I can tell, there isn’t much we can do here without blood, but she’s going to have a long road ahead of her. I’m going to leave. See if you can convince her to let me. It’s the only way I would be comfortable releasing her.”
“Ok,” Dyson said. Lauren left the room again Dyson looked at the girl in his arms. It’s almost like she realized where she was because she scrambled off of his lap again and Dyson slowly moved back to the chair he had vacated. “I know you have no reason to trust me, but I truly want to help you get better. Lauren is going to be able to help you; to make sure you’re healthy. I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again. I promise you that.”
Katie didn’t say anything, but Dyson was beginning to suspect that maybe she couldn’t. The people who had held her captive had made her incapable of speech; whether it was physical or mental he wasn’t sure, but they had definitely done a number on her. He tried another approach. “I don’t know what the plan is from here, but I do know that I won’t let anything happen to you. I’m afraid I must give you some bad news. Your brother who worked tirelessly to find you passed away yesterday. Your family is gone, but we’ll keep you safe and help you get back on your feet again.”
Katie rubbed her fingers together in the sign meant for money. Dyson assumed she was saying she had no money to pay for anything. “All of your family’s money has been left to you. Your family’s attorney called me and said that you are to want for nothing.”
Katie nodded her head, but laid down again, curling into a ball away from Dyson. Dyson felt pain in his chest at feeling rejected, but pushed it away knowing she didn’t mean it. He settled back in the chair, figuring he should give her space for now. He would prod again later.
Dyson was playing a game on his phone when he heard noise coming from Katie. Looking up, he saw that she was trembling and whimpering in her sleep. Dyson reached over to shake her shoulder in an effort to wake her up, but she seemed to be in pain. “Katie?” he called. When she seemed not to hear him, Dyson realized the arm underneath his hand was burning up. “Katie?” he asked again. When there was no reply Dyson looked down the hallway outside her door. He saw a nurse and called out, “Find Lauren. Something’s wrong.”
The nurse ran off and Dyson turned back to Katie who was shaking harder but her eyes were still squeezed shut. Dyson reached out and tucked her hair behind her ear from where it had plastered itself to her forehead. Lauren came rushing in with the nurse closely following her.
“What happened? Did anything change?”
“No, she was asleep. She still is I think.”
“This is why I needed her blood, so I could have prevented something like this happening. We need to get her temperature down.”
The nurse went into action and Dyson made himself back up out of the way, pacing along one side of the room. He heard bits and pieces of their conversation but he couldn’t focus. For whatever reason, he felt his wolf at the forefront of his mind, working to break through, wanting to save the girl. He felt so conflicted. He couldn’t understand what was going on but heard words like ‘blood’ ‘sedative’ and ‘drugs’. The nurse rushed off and Dyson finally demanded, “What is going on?”
Lauren sighed, “My guess is the drugs they gave her are working to leave her system. They probably doped her up on some heavy duty stuff to keep her loopy for what they wanted.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think she was artificially inseminated and I believe she has had multiple pregnancies.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think she was sexually abused.”
Dyson wanted to throw up and rip someone’s throat out at the same time. He didn’t have any words so Lauren continued, “We can use IVs to get the drugs out of her system quicker, but it’s going to be a rough couple of days.”
Dyson sighed, but nodded, “Ok. Anything I can do to help?”
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but will you use a cool cloth to wipe the sweat off of her face and neck. It’ll help draw the fever down.”
Dyson took the cloth she offered him and got to work, praying Katie would pull through.
Three days later, Katie opened her eyes. Dyson had fallen asleep in the chair and jumped when he heard her move. “What? What’s wrong?” he was asking before he was fully awake. Katie was assessing the room and Dyson saw that she seemed much more aware and alert than the first time she had woken.
“Katie,” Dyson breathed, “You’re awake. Hi.”
Katie smiled at him and Dyson’s wolf wanted to leap with joy. He decided he liked her smile, it was cute and innocent even despite what she had been through. “How are you feeling?” Dyson asked.
Katie nodded and continued to smile and Dyson assumed that was a good thing. I know several people who are going to be glad that you’re awake. I am at the forefront of that list, but you’ve had your new family checking in on you.” Katie’s expression changed to confusion so Dyson continued, “Lauren and Kenzi and my son Mark and his boyfriend Vex who’s a total pain in my ass but he might be a good guy and my friend Bo with her sister Dagny. You have semi officially been adopted into our makeshift family.”
Katie’s smile dropped and fear filled her eyes again, “No no no,” Dyson said, “It’s ok. Really. We all want to make sure you’re ok. Please, don’t be scared, especially not of me.”
Katie moved so that she was sitting up against the head of her bed and Dyson worked to prop the pillows up behind her. Hearing Dyson’s voice, Lauren came in the room. “How’s the patient?” she said with a cheery voice. “It’s good to see you with your eyes open again.”
Katie looked to Dyson with nerves shining through her expression. “It’s ok, Katie. Lauren only wants to help you.”
Katie looked purposefully at the IV line still placed in her hand. “We had to, Katie,” Dyson said. “You were really sick and it was the only way we could get you better.”
Katie looked doubtful but didn’t protest Lauren’s assessment of her. “I think we’re ready to take the IV out, Katie. We just have to make sure you can eat solid foods first. We have pudding options,” she said with a smile, “Vanilla or chocolate?”
Katie held up her hand and made a ‘v’ shape with her index and middle fingers. “Vanilla?” Lauren asked. Katie nodded and Lauren and Dyson beamed at her. “I’ll go get some. I’ll be back.”
Dyson looked at Katie earnestly, feeling his heart soar at how responsive she was, “I think you’re going to be ok.”
Katie turned a beautiful shade of pink and Dyson couldn’t help the grin that broke out. Lauren was back in a moment with a cup of pudding and a spoon. “Do you know how long it has been since you were given solid foods?” Lauren asked as she handed both to Katie.
Katie lifted a shoulder in a shrug and used her hands to curve out in front of her stomach. “When you were pregnant?” Lauren asked astounded. “Is that the only time they gave you solid foods? When you were pregnant?”
Katie nodded slowly. “Katie, I need to ask you a difficult question.” Katie looked apprehensive and scared. Lauren pressed on anyway, “How many times have you been pregnant?”
Katie looked down at her hands for a moment before holding up a one on both hands, “Eleven times?” Lauren clarified. Katie nodded and Dyson couldn’t help the sharp intake of breath or the deep sadness that came over him. “Did you carry them all to term?” Lauren continued. Katie shook her head no and help up ten fingers. “Only ten of them?” Katie nodded again. “Were they all single births?”
Katie shook her head no, holding up six fingers. “Only six of them?” Katie shook her head no again, flashing all the fingers and then another five. “Fifteen? You’ve had fifteen children throughout your capture?” Katie nodded and tears flooded her eyes. “My god,” Lauren breathed. Dyson stood and began pacing the room, wishing he had killed more of the bastards who had held her when he had the chance. He felt Katie’s eyes tracking him but he suddenly had too much pent up energy.
“Dyson, you’re scaring her,” Lauren said to draw him out of his reverie. Dyson forced himself to stop and return to her bedside.
“Katie, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I promise you I will find every person involved in hurting you and I will be sure they pay.”
Mercifully, just then Kenzi walked into the room, “Hey guys, I heard our girl is awake. Hi Katie, good to see you again,” sensing the tension, Kenzi asked, “Ok, what did I miss?”
“Can you stay Kenz? I have to go. I will be back Katie, I promise. Take care of her,” he said to the room in general before he made a quick departure. Lauren and Kenzi shared a look before Kenzi turned to Katie with a smile, “Is that pudding? I love pudding, second only to cereal, pizza, and ice cream, so I guess that would be ‘fourth’ only? I don’t know, but let’s get you eating.”
Kenzi sat on the side of Katie’s bed and peeled off the cover on the cup and handed it back to Katie whose hands were shaking. “Hey girlie, need help? Here, I’ll hold the cup and you can man the spoon.”
After a few moments, Katie had managed several spoonfuls before indicating that she was done. “We’ll get you back on your feet again,” Kenzi said full of optimism.
“I need to go check on the other girls,” Lauren said, “They all exhibited withdrawal symptoms like you, but nowhere near as bad. I would guess they weren’t there as long as you were. Let me know if you need anything.”
Kenzi smiled, “Will do, Doc.” Lauren left with a chuckle and Kenzi turned to Katie. “So, what’d’ya wanna do? We could watch TV or I could probably scrounge up some books and I could read to you or I could tell you some more stories from our lives or we could I don’t know, play cards?”
Katie gave Kenzi a small smile and pointed to the TV on the wall so Kenzi grabbed the remote and began flipping channels. They landed on a kids show that Katie seemed excited to see so they sat back to watch the cartoon animals flittering around the screen. A few hours later, Lauren came back with Bo in tow. “Hey chicas, Kenzi said. What’s kicking?”
“What, can’t a girl come see her best friend without a reason?”
“Yes, but I distinctly get the feeling that you have a reason.”
“Have you heard from Dyson?”
“Not since he left. Why? What’s up?”
“We’re just worried about him is all,” Bo replied. “Hi Katie,” she said with a smile.
Katie looked to Kenzi for reassurance before giving Bo a small nod of her head, only to look back down at her fingers. “Can I talk to you outside, Kenz?” Bo asked.
Kenzi looked to Katie who still looked completely uncomfortable with an unknown in the room but stood and walked outside anyway. “What’s wrong, Bo?”
“Dyson was supposed to check in with the Ash but never showed. We’re afraid he’s gone AWOL. What did he say when he left?”
“Why didn’t you ask your girlfriend?”
“I did, but I want your perspective.”
“He was talking about making the people who held her captive gone.”
“Gone. That’s what he said?”
“He needed to make someone pay.”
“I never thought Dyson would be someone I would have to worry about being reckless. What is up with him?”
“I don’t know, but it has something to do with that adorable woman in that room behind me.”
“Who is she exactly?”
“I don’t know anything other than the fact that her name is Katie. Dyson on the other hand has some kind of connection to her that none of us understand. Especially not him.”
“God, this is going to be a thing isn’t it?”
“Yep,” Kenzi said, popping the ‘p’.
“Ok, keep an eye on her and I’ll go find Dyson.”
“Keep us in the loop.”
Two days later, Dyson, Vex, Mark, and Bo returned to the hospital, bloodied, broken, and exhausted. Lauren and her minions leapt into action when she saw them. “What happened? No word from any of you for two days? Please tell me there is at least a good reason.”
“There is,” Bo wheezed out, clutching a gash in her side.
“We found them and we got ‘em,” Dyson explained, cradling an arm.
Kenzi rushed around the corner, with Katie trailing behind. Both gasped when they saw the injuries and Katie’s knees gave out. Kenzi caught her but Dyson started fighting the nurses removing his vest and shirt wanting to get to her. “Dyson, knock it off,” Bo chastised. “You’re not helping anybody by being difficult. Kenzi’s got her.”
Dyson growled again before seeing the look Kenzi was giving him. Looking to Katie he could see her shaking and scared at his reaction so he made himself calm down and accept the treatment despite his wolf whining at him to check on her. He maintained eye contact with her while the nurses worked, barely flinching at the stitches he apparently needed.
Dyson heard Bo explaining what all had transpired to Lauren and to the rest who had gathered, “It took us a little bit of time to track down who was in charge of the ring, but as soon as we found them, it was quite the battle to get back out of there alive. The leader was Dark so we delivered his head to the Morrigan.”
“What did we miss here?” Vex asked, “Were you able to find the girls’ families?” wincing as his dislocated shoulder was put back in place.
“Yes, for the most part. All but one of them have gone home. A dozen of them were Dark Fae and there were around fifteen Light. We’re looking for the family of the selkie, but otherwise everyone has been sent home to recuperate and try to regain some semblance of normal.”
“Have you found out anything about the children?” Mark asked.
“We hoped you all would have. Did they not have records or anything?” Kenzi asked.
“They had burned everything by the time we got there. They had had a bit of a head start. Do none of the girls know what they did with them?”
“No, they were all too drugged to know what was happening.”
Dyson had to tune it all out. Anytime he thought about the horrors inflicted he became irrationally frustrated. Knowing the men who had hurt Katie were not going to be coming for her eased his mind, but he still knew there were plenty out there who could hurt her. He was still watching her face seeing if she had any reactions to what was being discussed around her. She wasn’t looking at him per se, instead she was watching what the nurses fluttering around Dyson were doing. Occasionally she would look at the other three whenever they would hiss or complain about whatever was being done to them, but then she would almost immediately return to Dyson.
Dyson wasn’t listening to the conversation and didn’t realize he interrupted when he asked, “How long has Katie been out of bed?”
“What?” Lauren asked, thrown by the question.
“How long have you had her walking?”
“Yesterday morning we had her out and about. She’s actually doing very well although she looks like she’s flagging. Kenzi, could you take her back to her room?”
Kenzi wrapped an arm around Katie and began steering her towards the door but Katie began resisting and instead wobbled over to where Dyson was sitting on a hospital bed. Everyone stilled and watched her in silence. Once she was in front of him, she moved so she was standing between his knees. She brought a hand up so that she was cupping one side of Dyson face. Dyson stared into her eyes, feeling as though she was looking into his soul. She gave him a small smile and nodded her head before turning around and walking back to Kenzi who was agape. She finally managed to remember herself and rushed forward to help Katie back to her room.
The nurses and orderlies slowly began working on everyone again, but Dyson felt like he was in a daze; he didn’t feel anything else they did to him. When he was given the ok to take off he immediately went to Katie’s room. Kenzi was babbling about something, getting her settled back into bed so Dyson leaned against the doorjamb until they realized he was there.
“Hey D-man. We’re glad you’re still in the land of the living.”
“Thanks Kenzi,” he said walking in to the room, but his eyes were only on Katie.
“Ok,” Kenzi said drawn out, “I’m gonna go be in a place that’s else.”
“Ok,” Dyson replied, distracted. As Kenzi left, Dyson came to sit on the edge of Katie’s bed. He laid his hand palm up next to her leg and his wolf breathed a sigh of relief when she put hers in his too. Dyson interlocked their fingers before looking into her eyes again. “Katie, I know you don’t really know me, but when you are released, would you consider coming to live with me? You have all the property and holdings of your family, but I would feel better knowing you are safe with me. Will you come home with me?”
Katie stared at their fingers for a moment, mulling it over. Dyson felt like he couldn’t breathe, waiting for her. Finally, Katie looked back into his eyes and nodded. Dyson felt like his wolf was puppy prancing around the room giving happy yips. He smiled big, “Really? Oh, that’s great. I’m going to have to do some cleaning before it will be ready and get some new furniture and stuff, but—”
Katie cut him off with a finger against his lips and Dyson had to fight the urge to kiss it, but figured it would have sent her running so instead he just smiled. Katie laid her hand gently against Dyson’s broken arm which was now in a sling, looking at him questioningly. “Don’t worry,” Dyson said, “I heal quickly and I am going to be ok. They didn’t get me too badly.”
Katie gave him another small albeit sad smile. She laid back against the pillows on her bed, eyes drooping. She struggled to keep them open. Dyson finally said, “It’s ok, go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up again.”
Katie gripped his hand tighter again for a moment, looking at him earnestly. “I promise,” Dyson repeated, “I will be here when you wake up.” Katie nodded and let her eyes droop again. Dyson listened as her breathing evened out, fighting the urge to join Katie on the bed.
Later, Lauren came to check on the two of them. “How you feeling Dyson? You look like you had taken quite the beating.”
“I’m ok. Better. How is she? Really?”
“Physically, she is healing. Emotionally and psychologically are different matters all together. She is finding ways to communicate but I don’t know if her inability to speak is psychosomatic or if she medically can no longer speak. There’s no telling what exactly happened to her, or even for how long. You saw the same glimpse into her life that I saw. It was hell. The information we gleaned from the other girls who hadn’t been there as long and who were in better shape paints a pretty grisly picture. She has been doing pretty well here, Kenzi has really gotten her to open up, but it’s hard to say what would happen if she were to leave. Have you given any thought to where she is going to go?”
“She agreed to go home with me.”
“With you? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?”
“Because you don’t know her. You don’t know how she will behave on her own.”
“I know her.”
“You’ve known her for a week.”
“Sometimes a week is all you need.”
“Dyson, what is going on with you? Everyone is worried.”
“Our family: me, Bo, Vex, Mark, even Kenzi. We don’t want you getting into something over your head.”
“I’m a big kid, Lauren. I know what I’m doing.”
“I sure hope so. We don’t want to see you or her get hurt. You’re abnormally attached to her.”
Dyson scoffed and redirected his attention to Katie. Her face was already beginning to fill out and she looked much younger when she was relaxed in sleep. She was still curled into a ball, but she wasn’t as tense as she had been just a few days ago.
“I’ll be ok, Lauren,” Dyson said.
Lauren sighed, but left the room to help Bo finish healing.
Two days later, Katie was deemed fit to go home. Dyson invested Kenzi to help him get his man pad suitable for a woman to move into. Dyson was having to fight his anxiety as he drove Katie through his neighborhood. Things that had seemed like a good idea when he had originally picked it out, now seemed like potential threats to Katie. He made himself shake it off and instead allowed himself to enjoy watching Katie’s reactions to everything. She was mesmerized by all the things she hadn’t been able to see while she had been in captivity.
When Dyson parked his car, he faced Katie and asked, “You ready?” He was needing to tamp down on his excitement, but knowing she was willing to come home with him made him unusually happy. Katie on the other hand looked subdued and almost scared again. Dyson guessed it was too much change too quickly, but he hoped that he could get her used to the new place and that she could settle in and experience happiness again. Her life had been filled with horrors for too long.
Dyson walked a step behind her all the way up. He could see her appraising the place and hoped it didn’t make her uncomfortable. She was probably expecting something like the big mansion her family came from. He set down the bags of clothes Kenzie had given him for Katie to wear, and closed the door. When he turned back around he discovered that Katie had taken her clothes off. “Whoa, Katie what are you doing?”
Katie had crouched down and was tugging on his belt. He grabbed her hands to still her and crouched down to her level, “Katie, you don’t have to do this anymore. You can wear clothes and be normal again. You don’t have to trade sexual favors for anything. I don’t expect anything like that from you. Come on, let’s get you covered.” Dyson grabbed a blanket from his couch and wrapped it around her shoulders before leading her to sit down. She looked at him in confusion and he could tell he had surprised her again.
“There’s a lot for you to learn still, about how the world actually works, that is. Your life has been a nightmare and all you deserve is happiness and fun and peace. That’s why I brought you here, so I can make sure you’re safe and can learn and be happy.”
Katie wrapped the blanket more completely around her like a cocoon. “I’m going to go into the kitchen and start making some dinner for us. Kenzi and Dagny are supposed to come over in an hour or so. Why don’t you put your clothes back on and explore the place until they get here?”
Dyson didn’t wait for an answer, instead he stood and headed for the kitchen, forcing himself not to look back and see how Katie responded. He puttered around, getting the food started. He waited five minutes before allowing himself to look into the living room. Her clothes were no longer there, the blanket was folded, and Katie was nowhere to be seen. Listening hard, he heard footsteps down the hallways. He released the tension he hadn’t realized he was holding in his shoulders and focused on making the food.
The evening was filled with laughter and stories. Kenzi and Dyson were sharing tales from the mischief that had followed them since they met. Katie actually laughed a few times and Dyson decided he liked the sound and wanted to hear it as often as possible. Her eyes were shining and her face was full of life. She still wasn’t talking, but Dyson was pleased with the progress they had made.
Kenzi and Dagny were about to leave for the evening. Dagny had captured Katie’s attention to show her Dyson’s television and how it worked. Katie was mesmerized by the cartoon playing on the screen and Dyson wasn’t sure she was listening to Dagny’s explanations on the function of the remote. It took Kenzi several attempts to get Dyson’s attention. “Wolfman,” when Dyson finally made eye contact with her again, she had a cheeky grin on her face, “What is it with you and this woman?”
“She’s special, Kenzi. I can’t describe it as anything else. She niggles away at my consciousness. She’s all I can think about, all my hopes and plans for the future.”
“I like her,” Kenzi said, hugging his arm as the two of them watch the girls’ antics on the sofa. Katie was now pushing the buttons Dagny told her to, watching the screen react.
“You don’t even know her,” Dyson said with a bit of a chuckle.
“Yeah, but I know you. And I’ve never seen you like this, even with Bo. She’s going to be good for you.”
Dyson took another week off of work to help Katie acclimatize to her new surroundings. When he felt like she could be self-sufficient while he was away, he went back. It was the longest day of his life, and all of his buddies at the police department were itching to know where he had been. He had gone with the family emergency/death scenario and had everyone convinced he was still grieving the loss of his dear aunt who had practically raised him after his parents died. No one poked the story too hard and for that he was grateful.
Just as he was about to head home, his phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID, he groaned realizing it was the Ash, “Dyson.”
“Ah, Dyson, I see you have finally stopped avoiding my calls.”
“Uh, yeah, about that…”
“Dyson, you have a job you are meant to be doing.”
“No buts. You need to come see me immediately.”
Dyson sighed and ran a hand down his face, “Yes sir.”
“Good. See you shortly.”
Dyson shot a text to Bo, *can you go check on Katie for me? I’ve been summoned and don’t want her to worry if I’m late*
*Sure, we’ll be over in a minute. We she let us in?*
Dyson rolled his eyes at the fact that Bo automatically assumed she could bring Lauren. But then, for the first time, it didn’t truly bother him that they were a package deal.
It was almost 9 before Dyson was done with the task the Ash had given him involving a series of thefts that had been happening on their turf. Dyson was exhausted as he turned the key in the door. He heard happy voices on the other side of the door, and felt a moment of trepidation at what they could be doing. He hoped Katie wasn’t overwhelmed.
He opened his door to quite the merry gathering. All of the girls were there: Bo, Lauren, Kenzi, and Dagny. Dyson smiled, seeing Katie in the middle of the couch with everyone else arranged around her. Who knows what they had been talking about, but the laughter lasted even after he closed the door. “Having fun?”
For whatever reason, that prompted another bout of laughter. Katie jumped up from her spot and bounded over to him and gave him a hug. “Sorry I’m so late,” he whispered in her ear, revealing in her initiating the contact. Katie pulled away a bit and patted his chest lightly with one of her hands, saying it was ‘ok’ in her own way. Katie pulled away more, but took one of his hands in hers and pulled him to the kitchen and showed him several half eaten pizzas.
From the living room, Bo called, “We were hungry but no one felt like cooking so we ordered pizza.”
“Thank you guys. You all look like you are in full girls’ night mode.”
“We might be,” Kenzi responded, “Although we hadn’t broken out any chick flics or nail polish yet, so it wasn’t a real one.”
Dyson chuckled, and grabbed one of the paper plates on the counter and served himself. He came and sat on the floor, using his coffee table for his plate, and Katie sat next to him. Everyone seemed to look at him expectantly. “What?” he asked, feeling self-conscious.
“What did the Ash want?” Lauren asked.
“Oh, just business as usual. Wanted me back to being some hired muscle. Nothing horribly exciting, just some burglaries.”
“You sure? You look like you’re ready to crash,” Dagny said in her own quiet way.
“Yeah, today was just annoyingly long for my first day back.”
Katie patted his knee, before turning and looking to Kenzi expectantly. “I have to finish the story, don’t I?!”
Kenzi launched back in to her saga and soon everyone was soon laughing again. Dyson was fading fast, but saw Katie keep looking at him from the corner of his eye. “What is it?” he finally asked.
She reached over and lightly touched under his eyes where he felt some major bags growing. “Yeah, I should probably head to bed. It’s been a day and I have to go back tomorrow.”
“Aww, does that mean we have to leave?” Dagny whined.
“No, not necessarily, but I am going to turn in. Will you lock up once they all leave?” he asked Katie. She nodded and stood when he did, walking back into the hallway with him.
Katie nodded, but looked sheepish, “Did you have fun with the girls?” Katie nodded again. “Are you sure you’re ok?”
Katie nodded, smiled, then reached for him and gave him a hug. Surprised, it was a second or two before Dyson returned the hug, fully encircling her in his arms. Katie tucked her head against his chest and Dyson was in a prime position to smell her hair. One of the girls’ had brought her a fruity shampoo and Dyson loved it. It suited her somehow.
After a moment, Katie pulled away with a smile and headed back to the gathering. Dyson had a surprisingly good night of sleep, dreaming of the future he hoped to have with Katie.